Beach + Island

Our Favorite Islands

by Bob Payne

The island: Vancouver Island

The goods: All the wilderness wonder of British Columbia—only with the huge added attraction of world-class beaches. The island is smack up against the mainland, with only enough room between the two for killer whales and cruise ships to squeeze past. You'll spend your days hiking and fly-fishing, sea kayaking and whale watching—with the added bonus of being able to kick back on the beach afterwards. Plus, you'll be much less likely to be eaten by a grizzly bear here, as they tend to stay on the mainland, where the plumper, slower-moving tourists congregate.

Be sure to: Hook up with the fly-fishing folks of Island Outfitters. Sure, there's salmon fishing along the coast, but for a taste of the inland beauty, they'll take you to the Cowichan River Valley and give you the gear (and expertise) to hook a number of the river's huge cutthroat and rainbow trout.

Best beach: Up here, beaches are about strolling the tide line and being awestruck by the power of the surf. The best place to do that is Long Beach, six miles of firm sand.

Perfect season: Unless you have a sincere appreciation for rain, June through September. If you're here for the fly-fishing, though, the sweet months fall between March and June. Even the winter has advantages: Many of the hotels offer storm-watching specials.

Call it home: Wickaninnish Inn, an elegant wilderness lodge on a rocky outcrop just south of Tofino, about halfway up the west coast—it serves up great Pacific Northwest cuisine at the edge of the world. (Count on some of those delicious fish.)

Island Outfitters
Tel: 250 475 4969

Wickaninnish Inn
Tel: 250 725 3100
Doubles from $300

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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